Tynedale are Henley Hawks’ first opponents in Division 1 and are new visitors to Dry Leas. They are now well established in Division 1 having finished 5th in 2010/11 and 2011/12 although slipping down the league to finish 5th from bottom last season.
In a freakish way this record hides the fact that they with two other clubs earned the most bonus points and this was one more than league champions Ealing Trailfinders
It was significant that 13 of these points were losing points indicating the number of narrow defeats. They play open attractive rugby and in scoring 121 tries last season they were the third highest try scorers in the league. The comparatively lowly position in the league can be accounted for by their poor defensive record as they conceded over one hundred tries.
The Hawks are expecting to field a team nearly wholly based on last year’s successful squad . The only new signing to start will be Alan Awcock on the left wing. He has played with Newport in South Wales for the last four seasons’. Therea are two new signings on the bench. Although one of these, Ryan Long, was a regular in the back row at No. 7 three seasons ago. The other is Mark Bruce at scrum-half who has come down from Scotland where he played for Falkirk which gives the Hawks cover in this position, a luxury they did not enjoy last season.
A number of players are still suffering injuries and could not be considered and these include Christophe Bart who has returned to the Hawks after being out with a cruciate ligament injury he suffered when playing in New Zealand at Otago and sadly Will Jones who has contracted a similar injury pre-season which may keep him out of contention for a number of months. The same is true of Jack Shaylor who missed most of last season Luke Allen , (N0.6 or No.8), who has joined the Hawks from Cinderford could not be considered for this game because of a neck injury
Tynedale’s leading try scorers last season were wingers Hamish Smailes and Andrew Moralee who scored over thirty tries between them. The game between these two sides could well be very open with the promise of a number of tries bearing in mind that the Hawks scored 185 tries last season so that between them in 2012/13 these sides scored 306 tries.
It is of interest they have lost one of their stalwarts No. 8 Ollie Stedman who has joined London Welsh and who played against the Hawks last Saturday scoring a try in the second half .
When if comes to the return match in the last game of the season the Hawks will travel in the knowledge that Lonson based teams have often returned from the north-est empty handed. Last season Rosslyn Park, Richmond and Blackheath suffered such a fate.
With both teams dedicated to open rugby the league season should have a lively start.
The Henley Herald would like to wish the Henley Hawks good luck for new the season.
The Hawks line-up is :-
1. Dai Maddocks, 2. Alex Penny, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements, 5. Josh McNally, 6. Will Woodward, 7. Liam Dwyer, 8. Matt Payne, 9.Luke Carter, 10. James Comben, 11. Alan Awcock, 12. Tommy Allen, 13. Martin Nutt (Capt), 14. Xavier Andre, 15. Liam O’Neill
16. Ed Church, 17. Robbie Stapley 18. Ryan Long,19.Danny Wells,20. Mark Bruce